India pacer Ishant Sharma has thanked teammate Gautam Gambhir for supporting him during his difficult times and said the left-handed batsman motivated him to make a strong comeback into the national side.
Ishant, who is the leading wicket-taker in the ongoing Test series against the West Indies with 18 scalps, said Gambhir always stood beside him during his lean patch that saw the lanky pacer lose his place in the Indian team.
"I would like to thank Gautam (Gambhir) bhaiya. He had great belief in me. When I was down I would speak to him, and he would tell me that I would make a comeback and do really well. A senior player like him was supporting me and telling me I should not lose hope in myself," he said.
"When you are bowling well, everyone praises you. It matters what people are saying when you aren't doing well. I am really grateful to Gautam bhaiya," Ishant told a cricket website.
The 22-year-old paceman revealed that he lost his form while trying to emulate his senior pace colleague Zaheer Khan. Ishant said he started copying Zaheer in 2008 when South Africa toured India.
"I was trying to copy Zaheer Khan's action. No doubt he is a great bowler, but I guess I shouldn't have tried to copy his action. We are entirely different in styles. Zaheer told me that I am too much into the technical side of things and that I shouldn't be," he said.
"When South Africa came to play in India, I started to copy him. I wanted to be a swing bowler. I was forgetting my natural strength of bounce and hitting the deck. When I bowl with my natural style, the ball automatically starts to inswing. That was my strong point, and I should have just stuck to that. That was my greatest mistake," Ishant recalled.
"I wanted to swing it from a fuller length and in trying to do that I was copying his action. I thought I could copy his action release, just to get my length fuller. The way I ran, the action, the whole thing was affected. Now I just stick to my basics and my strengths," Ishant said.
"The rhythm is back. The important thing is, I am now enjoying my bowling. I visualise every ball and what I need to do. I focus on my strengths. I believe in my strengths more now - the pace and bounce. The last one and a half years have been up and down. I struggled a lot."
He also disclosed that he did not inform Zaheer about trying to copy his action.
"I didn't. I didn't want his bowling to get upset, or for him to feel bad that this was why my bowling was going wrong. I just realised that it's all right to learn things from others but you shouldn't be copying actions," he added.
Ishant, who became the fifth youngest bowler ever to reach the landmark of 100 Test wickets, also revealed that he was unable to cope up with the pressure of expectations after his initial success.
"During that time, even, say, if I was talking to you, I would be constantly thinking about cricket. How should I get that batsman out? What I should do, how I should bowl. I wasn't enjoying it. There was too much pressure. I was almost obsessed with cricket."
"I wasn't able to sleep well when I was dropped. I used to worry about what was going to happen to me. Suddenly from being a top bowler in Indian cricket you are nowhere. That time I was depressed," he said.
He also said that after remaining out of the team for a quite he has seen the other side of being a famous cricketer.
"Absolutely. When you are doing well people ask for your autograph. Otherwise no one asks about you. That made me mentally stronger. I have now learnt to balance. I know how to handle success and failure," Ishant concluded.